Training camp is a fun time for NFL fans, and for those who cheer the Detroit Lions, that fact is no different.
Every year, players come out of nowhere to wow the fans and impress the masses, and this takes place during a short three week period as camp plays out. Typically, there are players nobody expects that emerge to capture the attention of everybody as they push for roster inclusion.
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Previously, names such as Joseph Fauria, Zach Zenner, Tion Green, Teo Redding and others have become mainstays during camp in the minds of the fans, who have cheered their guys on for weeks and through the preseason, hoping to see them on the team.
Which players are going to make camp and preseason noise this year? Here’s a look at some names that might be in the front of everyone’s mind starting soon.
Tim Boyle, Quarterback
Already beloved in Green Bay for his ability to light it up during the preseason, it sure seems as if Boyle is going to be the backup this season for Jared Goff. In Detroit, the backup is often the most popular guy in town, so Boyle is starting from a strong position here to begin with. If Boyle has a good camp as well as preseason, it isn’t a stretch to say that he will become just as big of a cult hero as he once was with the Packers when he backed up Aaron Rodgers. Watch Boyle to see some of the magic that Packer fans were sad to lose when he signed with the rival Lions this offseason.
Chad Hansen, Wide Receiver
A few moons ago, Kris Durham won himself a role with the Lions after a solid camp period also given his friendship and working relationship with Matthew Stafford. Durham parlayed that into a nice run with Detroit for a few seasons where he became a fan favorite for his big catches. The same element could be at play with Hansen, who was a college teammate and friend of Jared Goff. Hansen also has some solid numbers to rely on from late last year, and as a result, could emerge from a crowded pack at wideout with some big plays. Hanson might be ignored thanks to how late he emerged in he free agency process, but could become the talk of camp given the connection with Goff and his ability to run solid routes and make catches.
Tavante Beckett, Linebacker
Defensively, a chance exists for a player to steal a spot at linebacker most of all. With the Detroit selection of Derrick Barnes earlier in the draft, it’s clear the team is putting a premium on toughness and tackling at the linebacker position. That’s just what the doctor ordered for a group that has been amongst the worst in the NFL the last few seasons. Beckett was the best tackler in Conference USA and has some intriguing tape which shows him as a prospect with burst and good pursuit and instincts. It’s been a while since the Lions have had an undrafted free agent star at linebacker, possibly since Josh Thornhill cracked the roster briefly in 2002 for seven games. It’s time for that to change, and Beckett could be the guy to change it.
Michael Warren, Running Back
The Lions are loaded at running back once again in 2021, but it seems every year, there is a grinder who becomes impossible to ignore at the position in training camp. This year’s candidate could very well be Warren, who is a solid runner in college with Cincinnati that may not have gotten a chance to do complete damage in the pros as of yet. Warren will be battling with Jermar Jefferson for a role in camp. While most assume Jefferson has the inside track to a role, a player like Warren could make that a tough decision on the team with a solid few weeks of work. The odds are long that Warren cracks the roster, but the same could have been said for names like Zach Zenner and Tion Green before they made it in the league. Watch out for Warren in 2021.
Matthew Wright, Kicker
It didn’t take Lions fans long to fall in love with punter Jack Fox last year during camp, and they were quickly proven right for that love given how well Fox performed during the season. In Wright, they might have this season’s version of Fox in terms of an overlooked player finally getting his shot to make a case for a starting job in a new city. Wright was 5-5 in his brief foray as a kicker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but there, he was blocked by Chris Boswell. No such problems will come in Detroit, where Wright will compete with Randy Bullock to see who will be the kicker that succeeds the venerable Matt Prater. Many might consider Wright a camp leg, but if he impresses, he could nudge out Bullock for the full-time job. Lions fans have enjoyed a special relationship with their kicker through the years, so if Wright impresses, folks will hop on this bandwagon in a hurry.
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